The popularity of women’s university hockey in New Brunswick has jumped in the wake of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, with record crowds showing up to watch teams play.
A game at Mount Allison University on Thursday drew 800 people to the stands, about four times as many as used to show up for an Atlantic finals match.
“It was super exciting to come out and see so many fans and supporters,” said Megan Entwisle, who scored the winning goal for the Mounties as the team defeated the Université de Moncton.
Elisa Savoie, who plays right wing for the Université de Moncton, was in awe.
"It's a lot of emotion," she said. "It’s just 'Wow' to see a lot of people like that cheering for us."
The teams meet again Saturday in the third game of the Atlantic University Sport finals.
The coach of the Université de Moncton credits some the fan interest with how well Canada’s women’s team did at the Olympics, where they beat the United States in the finals to win gold.
"So soon after the Olympics and the comeback that the Canadian team did brought a lot of attention to women's hockey," Denis Ross said. "There's no doubt about that."
Serge Leblanc, a fan who attends games, says he expects 1,000 people for Saturday’s final.
"It's great hockey and I'm glad the word has got out, that people came to see it," he said.
The winner goes on to the national championship tournament.